Rose pedaled her bike at a leisurely pace on her way to the market. She had finally moved out of her mother's place and gotten a flat of her own. It was perfect: close to work, affordable rent, and within biking distance to all of the shops.
There has been just one problem with her grand plan of independence; she didn't know how to cook. For three weeks, she had been eating from depressing containers of takeaway, and it was getting old. Tonight she was determined to cook for herself, even though there was a high probability of the meal being burnt, so she was on her way to Tesco to procure fresh ingredients.
The fresh, spring air was heavenly as she rode along the street. She was enjoying the wind in her hair when she noticed a body lying in a driveway. Upon closer inspection, she noticed the person, a man, was fixing his own bicycle. And he was shirtless. And, from this distance, attractive. Rose was captivated by his appealing form until she was suddenly looking up at a blue sky.
Oh. She had run into a pole. Bugger.
"Are you alright?" asked the concerned voice of the shirtless stranger. His face swam into view above her as she lay sprawled on the ground.
This close, he was even more gorgeous than she had anticipated. Chocolate irises gazed worriedly at her, causing adorable little wrinkles to form in the corner of his eyes. His tousled brown hair swayed in the breeze, and Rose was briefly jealous of the wind for being allowed to run through his luscious locks. He was still shirtless, only now she could appreciate just how lean and tone his chest was.
Yum, she thought.
"What?" said the stranger.
Oh, crap. She had said that out loud.
"Um, er… I was… food!" she babbled.
"Um, I… I was on my way… food… I gotta go." She scrambled off the grass, hopped on her bike, and dashed away as fast as she could. The beautiful man called out to her, but she was cycling away too quickly to hear.
Idiot, idiot, idiot.
Rose internally berated herself for her bicycle blunder while browsing the produce. It shouldn't surprise her that she had fallen flat on her bum while ogling a complete stranger. "Jeopardy friendly" had always been her middle name. She glared at a tomato and snatched it up, inspecting the skin for any signs of bruising.
"Is this what you meant by food?"
Rose jumped and clutched her chest at the sudden voice in her ear, dropping her tomato. It rolled on the floor and settled next to a plimsoll shoe. She followed the path of the fruit as the shoe owner picked it up, gaze traveling along a pinstriped suit until she was looking into the eyes of the beautiful stranger.
The universe must hate her.
"You say "um" a lot." The man plopped the tomato back on the fruit stand.
She rubbed the back of her neck. "Er, yeah. Sorry about earlier. I fell."
"Yes, I know. You fell on my lawn." He raised his eyebrows and suppressed a grin.
"Yeah, guess I did." Rose chewed on her bottom lip and turned to select a clean tomato.
"Your leg is bleeding," he observed.
"What?" She spun around in a small circle, searching for the injury.
A hand stilled her on the shoulder, and she immediately froze at the contact. He pointed to the back of her calf where a trickle of blood was seeping from a small gash. Now she knew why she had been getting a few funny looks from the other shoppers.
The gorgeous man bent to inspect her leg. "Must have happened when you fell."
From this angle, she could make out a light dusting of freckles on his cheeks. Heat spread from the top of her head to the tips of her toes as she noticed his proximity to the short hemline of her skirt. He lightly touched a patch of skin near the wound, and the sudden tingle of skin-to-skin contact made her flinch.
"You were shirtless!" she blurted.
He tilted his head to the side and looked up at her. "Sorry?"
"Um, y-you weren't wearing a shirt," she stuttered.
"Oh! Yeah, I didn't want to get grease on it while I fixed my bike chain." He stood and cocked an eyebrow at her. "Is that why you fell?"
"Um…" If this man continued to engage her in conversation, she was in danger of never sounding smart again.
She felt her body flush bright red as he stared at her with a bemused smile. "I'm actually here to pick up a few ingredients to make curry. Do you like curry?"
"Good. Six work for you? You already know where I live. And, I'm a Doctor. I can patch up your leg." He waggled his eyebrows and rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.
"S-sure, yeah. Okay."
"I'm John, by the way. What's your name?" he asked and extended his hand out.
"Rose." She shook his proffered hand and managed not to squeak as a spark traveled up her arm.
"Nice to meet you, Rose. I'll see you later." John threw her a wink and strolled away with his hands in his pockets.
Rose watched him leave and took the opportunity to ogle his bum. "Yeah, definitely."
Perhaps being jeopardy friendly had its benefits, after all.